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Colombian Generals Meet With FARC, a Milestone

March 6, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — A group of top Colombian military generals on Thursday met with negotiators from the rebel FARC for the first time, which officials are heralding as the latest sign of progress in ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba.

Five army generals and one admiral sat down with FARC members on Thursday in Havana. Talks will reportedly continue through Saturday. An official told Reuters the meeting was “historic,” an apparent nod to the bitterness that has colored the relationship between the battlefield rivals and persisted even as President Juan Manuel Santos has called for a definitive solution to result from the talks, which began in November 2012.

Colombia’s military has previously been accused of failing to fully commit to Santos’ vision for the peace talks. In early December, Santos made a veiled warning against disloyalty among the military ranks, following an incident days before in which an army general was kidnapped by the FARC, highlighting civil-military tensions that have otherwise mostly stayed in the background.

In January, five military troops were fired and 20 others punished for allegedly spying on the peace process, which the government called an attempt at sabotage.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Four gunmen were shot and killed by security officials in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, in a town close to the border with Texas, after their patrol came under attack early Tuesday.
  • Mexico’s capture of the Zetas drug cartel leader on Wednesday epitomizes a trend in which the arrest of individual kingpins is touted as a victory in the drug war, overshadowing the continued violence and corruption that plague Mexico, according to The Guardian.

Caribbean

  • American talk-show host Conan O’Brien’s broadcast from Cuba, the first U.S. talk show filmed on the island since 1959, aired on Wednesday night, opening with O’Brien in a white suite and fedora walking through Havana’s streets.
  • A forum published in Cuban state media last week in response to an announcement regarding a new “General Election Law” may indicate that authorities are preparing to make profound changes to Cuba’s political system, according to The Washington Post.

Central America

  • A former head of Panama’s supreme court, Alejandro Moncada, was sentenced Thursday to five years in jail for corruption, marking the first time an active judge in the country will be imprisoned.
  • Voters in El Salvador are still awaiting the results of legislative and mayoral elections held March 1, after claims that the electronic transmission of votes was compromised.
  • Guatemala’s President Otto Pérez Molina announced that he would not extend a U.N. crime-fighting mission in his country, even after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden indicated that maintaining the mission was a condition for up to millions of dollars of funding for Central America.

Andes

  • A retired police general in Bolivia imprisoned for his involvement in the illegal cocaine trade had offered protection to traffickers while occupying his position, according to Bolivia’s interior minister.
  • Peru’s indigenous Achuar tribe won an undisclosed sum from Occidental Petroleum, after suing the company in 2007 for knowingly causing pollution that resulted in premature deaths, birth defects and environmental damage in their Amazonian community, setting a precedent in which U.S. companies can be held accountable for the pollution they cause in other countries.
  • Venezuela commemorated the second anniversary of Hugo Chávez’s death on Thursday with fireworks and a ceremony at his tomb, despite the country’s ongoing economic crisis.

Southern Cone

  • The ex-wife of Alberto Nisman, the Argentina prosecutor found dead in his apartment on Jan. 18, said that independent tests prove her ex-husband was murdered and rule out theories of suicide or accident during a Thursday press conference.
  • Brazil’s central bank raised interest rates to their highest levels, 12.75 percent, in six years, in a move to curb inflation, which was at a 12-year-high in February.

Image: FARC-EP archive photo

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